John-Michael Liles sitting ‘like a pro’

He isn’t going to pout.

Or stomp his feet. Or whine to the media. Or demand a trade.

That is not John-Michael Liles‘ way.

A healthy scratch for the past four games, Liles admitted on Sunday that he is not happy being forced to watch games from the press box.

At the same time, Liles insists that he is the only one who can change his fate.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” he said after the Leafs worked out at the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 1923 Arena.

“And when I get the chance to get back in there, it’s up to me to show them that I belong in there.

“I’ve been around long enough to see this happen to other guys. I saw the way they helped their teammates while they were going through it. And I think I can help the younger guys too.

“It’s never easy not playing. But you have to deal with it like a pro.”

Liles has an annual salary cap hit of $3.875-million US through the 2015-16 season.

90 Responses to John-Michael Liles sitting ‘like a pro’

  1. doorman says:

    Liles is a pro and I think will get back in. At that point though Nonis and Carlyle need to decide whether he is a part moving forward or to move him for other assets. I know many will disagree, but treating players with respect and especially veterns affects your ability to attract free agents, IMO. I am not saying guys shouldn’t have to work to play, but letting respected players sit and not play, doesn’t make you an attractive destination. Giving players a chance to play somewhere else when you don’t have room speaks volumes to players.

    • nordiques100 says:

      Komisarek too has been a great teammate. While we’ve seen others around the league complain about playing time, Komisarek has just gone out and worked hard every practice waiting his turn.

      The depth will be key, Thats over 1000 games combined sitting in the press box. Still a lot of hockey left and the sked is pretty condensed.

      Obviously, the team is not losing a lot so it helps, but, I dont think any of the D has really let off the gas. Maybe Dion a bit, due to his minutes, but the guys are really giving it hard. And, they are producing. For the youngsters, it will be all about consistency. At times you can tell, they are young. But they have played many more good minutes than bad. The coaches have really been great teaching Holzer and Kostka and making Fraser/Franson better players.

      They just have to keep it going. But I think its nice to have that safety net on D with the extra bodies. At some point, they’ll get back in there.

      • reinjosh says:

        I totally agree. The defense has been changed hugely this year. It’s playing hard all the time, unlike at times last year.

        Fraser/Franson have been particularly great. Franson is playing like some of us expected when that trade was initially made. He’s still an awkward skater but his shot is awesome (he’s great at getting it through) and he’s playing great.

        I expect someone will get moved between now and the deadline. I just can’t see any way in which we keep them all. Once Gardiner is deemed one hundred percent they will need to move someone to accomadate him. I think it was Mirtle who said they will keep him in the Marlies until he is getting a guaranteed spot since they don’t want him to struggle on the big team since he only has 4 games left of being able to bypass waivers.

        So bringing him up leaves the Leafs with (in no set order)


        9 guys all who are (or have) shown they can play in the NHL. I suspect Liles will be moved to make room for Gardiner and then the team will roll with 8 guys on defense with Komisarek sitting in the press box until someone is injured or an unexpected trade oppurtunity presents itself.

  2. leafy says:

    The media is so friggin stupid. Just because Liles is not playing doesn’t mean he’s their worst defenceman.

    It just means Randy Carlyle needs to give his head a shake.

    • Steven_Leafs0 says:

      he could just be the worse at the time under the new system. Liles was really more of a Wilson type D-man. He definitely is not the worse but he is the best one to trade if you try to find the best ratio of (trade return) : (impact of loss)

  3. LN91 says:

    Am I the only person who believes that Phaneuf is a good defenceman…Not great.

    I think Nonis needs to take a deep look before giving him a Weber or Chara type contract.

    • leafy says:

      If it was me, I wouldn’t build my D around Phaneuf. Just too inconsistent to lead his team to the ultimate prize.

      Please don’t mention him in the same breath as Weber and Chara.

    • leafy says:

      Gardner and Reilly will lead the D for years to come. I say let’s trade Phaneuf for good forwards.

      • LN91 says:

        I agree. That’s why I was saying we should really give the keys to Gardiner like some other successful teams have. I think Gardiner would also love the confidence boost.

        Reilly too. Any comparison to Karlsson is great in my books.

        I also like Holzer…Mobile big man.

        • doorman says:

          I think if you trade Phaneuf now, you are starting over. Don’t get me wrong I am not against trading anybody ever, for the right return. However, trading Dion could mean steps backwards. While he may not be a true #1 he is the closet thing to it we have had since Schneider patrolled our blueline years ago. He eats up big minutes against the other teams top players, trade him and we get worse defensively. That puts a lot of pressure on our young kids, instantly, which can be good but also backfire.

      • nordiques100 says:

        Dion does bring a few attributes that the rest of the Leafs D don’t have yet or will never have.

        He is still intimidating. He hasn’t done anything like that yet, but as an opponent, unlikely you go cruising up the middle. Dion can still punish people.

        Fraser is tough, Holzer has good size, but they can’t hit like Dion.

        And no one on the Leafs D has as hard a shot as Dion. That’s also intimidating. Franson can shoot the puck, but Dion is just crazy back there. He can wire it and its never safe, for opponent or teammate. Not many NHLers have that kind of pull. Chara for sure stands out above all others but Dion is unique with his shot.

        And I dont know if anyone can log that many minutes. Maybe Gardiner in time, but Dion can go 30+.

        He isn’t a no. 1. But a good no. 2 in a league with so very few no. 1’s.

        And keep in mind, the guy’s game has evolved. He has moved back to the left side. After 3 years on the right side in Wilson’s scheme. He was even over there a lot in Calgary.

        He is evolving to into a shutdown guy, not just a PP threat and a guy who can rush up the ice. That’s a big change to his game. I’d personally prefer the reckless abandon Dion, but there isn’t anyone on the Leafs D who can replace what he does to allow him to be the vicious intimidator back there.

        So before sending him on his way and thinking Gardiner and Reilly can replace him, think about what he does bring.

        And really, Gardiner and Reilly cannot replace him. they are vastly different players. They can add to what he brings and bring their own unique skill sets.

        You need balance. It was a problem in throughout the JFJ years as GM. JFJ brought in blake when he had tucker, he added Kubina when he had McCabe. He got goalies in successive drafts.

        Dion though is unique to the D. Unless there is a suitable replacement out there, there isn’t a rash need to get rid of him.

        • doorman says:

          Well said nords, much more in detail then my comment, lol. However like I said in the right deal I am not opposed to trading Dion, but I agree it sets our d-corps back further them some want to admit.

          • realistic_leafs_fan says:

            A fair description of Dion on the overall.IMO
            That said, trading Dion does not mean the demise of our D. He could be moved in a package for a top 6 forward and a shut down style d-man who makes alot less than Dion.
            As far as the minutes Dion logs, yes he plays about 27 minutes a night. Is it just me, or does he seem to have trouble handling it though? I think he does look tired.
            Both Franson and Fraser have earned more ice and seem fine playing 18-20 minutes and Gardiner had no problem playing 20+ last year as well.
            I’m not knocking Dion or saying trade Dion, but for the right pieces, I do it.

        • toronto77 says:

          You say that Fraser and Holzer can’t hit like dion, but when was the last time you saw dion throw one of his monster hits? last time I remember was the 2nd game of last season against Ottawa he destroyed DaCosta, than bitch Neil came in. That was the last time I saw him throw a hit like that, and every since he has been an average hitter.

          Dion does have the hardest shot but it is absolutely useless when you don’t hit the net, he has NO concentration with his shot, it’s all power and no accuracy. His hard inaccurate shot took out Lupul and almost his replacement in JVR. Franson, Gunnar and Holzer all do a great job of getting it on net.

          Gardiner and Rielly will never replace him because they are completely different style of defence-men than Dion, what they CAN replace is his leadership skills which Phaneuf does not have.

          But you are right that there aren’t a lot of replacements out there, if he could just make better decisions and drop some weight so he can skate faster because he is slow as shit and gets burned a lot! you can’t get burned when your logging that many minutes.

    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      Yes, it’s just you, no one has ever criticized Dion before.

      • realistic_leafs_fan says:

        LOL. Come on man. I wasn’t criticizing Dion. He looks tired at times…how is that a criticism? He plays 27 minutes and is a big guy. I think they should cut down his minutes and distribute a little more. Also, it’s not just Dion I would trade for the right price, I would trade Gardiner as well if the right pieces came along. Not everyone is attacking Phanuef.

      • nordiques100 says:

        the only criticism i’ve had of Dion is him not being able to play Dion hockey. I’d prefer reckless abandon Dion but that’s not his fault. The team needs what he is now b/c they don’t have anyone else who’d come close to doing that kind of work at that level.

  4. doorman says:

    I think Alzners age is the key, RFA or not. I think maybe if we added, which actually I would as I feel he would allow us to move a dman for assets. Just my opinion though, I don’t think it is bad or far fetched I just think McPhee would hold out for more based on Alzners age.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      I agree with you on Alzners age. He has had trouble breaking into the line-up on a regular basis though and Washington has all their veteran D pending UFA (except Erskine that they just extended) Liles is signed for a few years and Alzner is RFA. It all would depend on Washington’s direction going forward.

  5. Shoelesshobo says:

    Long time sense I posted (Been reading a lot of HFBoards recently.)

    What do you guys think of the idea of putting Kulemin on Kadri’s wing to see if it can spark some more offense out of him? the thought of…

    Kulemin – Kadri – Frattin

    Made me pretty happy seems like some good size on the wings and two of them can open up space for Kadri. Also don’t know if this has been posted yet but…

    Can’t wait for Leo Komarov to get Randy Carlyle going like that lol.

  6. doorman says:

    Well I guess it comes down to whether or not Carlyle is happy with kules play as a defensive forward. I have no problem with trying to get him going, but the team is playing well so if he isn’t moved i have no problems.

    I am happy to be posting back on HTR as opposed to HFboards. Some of the posters there are ok but some see nothing anyway but there own, lol. good to see you back buddy

    • Shoelesshobo says:

      Yeah I agree on some of the posters. I mainly have a group I stick to on the Mock Draft boards with GM games.

      As for Kulemin I am happy to have him playing like he is I just loved how Kadri helped him out on that goal he scored in Philly got me thinking about what we could have.

  7. leafs_wallace93 says:

    Everyone salivating over Reilly and Gardiner are in for a rude awakening, I don’t see them as being much better that 3 and 4 blueliners. Think Bret Hedican or Glen Wesley than Scott Niedermayer or Drew Doughty. Saying there more valuable than Dion is just silly. I’ll put it this way, Dion gets criticized for not being Chara and Gardiner get praise ever time he successfully gets the puck over his own blueline.

    You’re going to miss Dion when he’s gone if you simply trade him for the sake of trading him. Last time I checked the Leafs have been playing good hockey with him in the lineup.

    • LN91 says:

      I’m going to call this Tomas Kaberle syndrome with Leaf fans. He’s alright, not great…Should not be mentioned with any of the best in the league.

      Do I think Toronto will miss him? Yeah, probably would…If Rielly and Gardiner turn out to 1Bs, will I miss him? No, not one bit.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        I think it’s more whatever the media spoon feeds you, you panic about. That’s actually typical Leaf syndrome.

        Reilly and Gardiner can be 1as if you trade ever better defenseman on the team, they’ll be stars by default.

        • blaze says:

          Ya lets dump all that responsibility and crushing pressure on them how couldnt it succeed.

          On so many others boards Wilson is still ripped for his treatment of Kadri which to a point is fair from his handling of the media. However is it not obvious the slow development and earning a spot paid off?

          • LN91 says:

            Yes, Eakins develops players well in the Marlies…Those years in the AHL should be a blessing.

            • realistic_leafs_fan says:

              Eakins deserves credit, of course, but the message still needed to click to Kadri himself. He used to be lazy defensively and his work ethic lacked at times from shift to shift. I hope he keeps it up because I was wondering if he would ever get it. Brandon Convery came to mind when I would watch Kadri last year with the Marlies.

        • LN91 says:

          Many successful teams have built their teams around young defencemen. Ottawa with Karlsson, Los Angeles with Doughty, Montreal with PK Subban, and St. Louis with Pietrangelo as examples.

          Why can’t Jake Gardiner? He was our best all-around defencemen last year. A concussion slowed him down this year, but he had a goal and 2 assists with the Marlies on Sunday which indicates he’s close to returning.

          He actually should be on the Leafs right now, unfortunately due to many 1-Way/NMC contracts on the Leafs defence…It cannot happen.

          • leafs_wallace93 says:

            But TSN said you need a one, two punch down the middle to win so why build around Gardiner?

            When Gardiner earns a position in the organization over Dion that conversation can begin.

      • mojo19 says:

        Tomas Kaberle is 5th on the Leafs all-time assist list. He was just okay.

    • Shoelesshobo says:

      I will agree Wallace Gards and Reilly are getting a ton of praise and being compared to Neids is a bit of a reach but we all know what Dion is already. He is a solid top pairing guy personally I see him in the same light as Timmonen. to paring and can fill in as a #1D. May not be in the top 5 of the league but is an easy top 15 or 20 D man. Personally I like what I seen some people suggest to find Dion are good partner to lean on with. I am not against it as well seems like a rather good idea.

      Doorman mainly what this group does is just GM games where you take a team and you

      A) Rebuild them by trading off assets for prospects/picks and compete in the KLLR cup.

      B) Try and build a contender to win the cup. Most of our non GM game talk happens when we are in a chat room just chilling pretty interesting as we have fans for a lot of different teams so it is good to get a take from other fans perspective. Free to join although I think we are taking a break soon as we been doing a lot for a while now.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        The difference between Timmonen and Phaneuf is that Phaneuf has more upside, he’s ‘under achieving’ and still a top twenty. Would I like to see another great blueliner with him, yep. Do I want to trade him to pass the torch to a couple of young blueliners that have proven nothing at the pro level? Ummmm, no.

        You raise a good point though

        On the rebuild, not going to happen while we’re in a playoff spot and playing well nor should it. If we’re in the basement next season then yeah revisit it. The East is filled with teams that are in the lottery one year then playing great the next. Take Montreal for example, pick up your Galchenyuks when you can but don’t blow up your roster so they have someone to play with.

        • blaze says:

          No young team has won without veterans or veterans in their prime. How unreasonable is it to expect atleast 7 more years of good play out of Dion.

          Let our prospect slowly mature and push guys out of a spot ie Liles. Maintain a nice balance is the only way to remain competitive.

          I cringe when I see people say (quite often) our D in a year or 2 should be;


          Who has every even made the playoffs with such a green D core?

          • realistic_leafs_fan says:

            I didn’t like the sounds of that D-core either. I think it’s easier to dream of what could be, then realize what is.

            • blaze says:

              I love our abundance of D prospects because some are trade bait a few guys earn a spot and having stuff left in the cupboards makes big acquisitions possible when we’re hopefully knocking on the door.

              Who knows maybe Gardiner makes the team and Finn races Reilly to a spot and exceeds expectations. Reilly would be a fantastic piece in a deal.

              I understand the logic behind moving Dion for a top line center but I hate filling one hole by making another.

              I like the team right now I just want Nonis to continue on with what Burke started. Smart asset management and buy a buyer/seller. Acquire assets any way possible and eventually the surplus will pay off. A team that is knocking on the door is much more attractive to FA than a team selling and tanking.

              • LN91 says:

                Like they were saying on the TSN panel, it’s rare that a Stanley Cup winning squad does not have a 1-2 Punch up the middle.

                Toronto does not have a 1-Punch…And getting the 1-Punch is the hardest thing to do in hockey. 10x harder then getting a 1B defenceman like Phaneuf…Because they are always available on the UFA market.

          • leafs_wallace93 says:

            Lol, wasn’t D’Amigo supposed to be in our top six by now too?

    • blaze says:

      Agreed completely I don’t understand both Gardiner and Reilly are puck rushing PP QBs how is that a Dion replacement who does everything.

      Ya let’s see Reilly go shift for shift with Crosby and battle in front of the net and the corners, clear the crease on a PK or scramble a guys brains in the neutral zone. They have no one even similar to Dion.

      I don’t even understand the criticisms how he is not a number 1 dman?? He is the definition of a number 1 dman. Big PP minutes, rushes the puck, every critical face off he’s there, big PK minutes, shutdown role. He’s the go to guy and a top minute muncher in the NHL that can take your head off. Not a number 1 incredible.

      • blaze says:

        Not to mention the rotating door of defencemen he gets paired with from rookies to bottom pairing dman. He has been an absolute workhorse for the Leafs but if he makes a mistake its the only thing anyone pays any attention to.

        • leafs_wallace93 says:

          I can’t wait to see Gardiner and Reilly get eaten alive for their turnovers whenever they get creative.

          Toronto fans 101, look at Luke Schenn, gets a pass in rookie year (he’s the untouchable cornerstone), starts to get criticized in his sophomore year and come year three he’s utterly disposable.

          Come to think of it, how many years has Dion been here? It’s right on schedule.

          • LN91 says:

            Kulemin and Grabovsi been here longer…Not much criticism, except for the offensive output, but everyone kind of gets the sense they are shutting down top-lines and doing a heck of a good job doing it.

            My only issue with Grabo was his contract, about .5-1 million overpaid.

            Luke Schenn, his struggles in Toronto are EXACTLY the same issues he’s having in Philly…Too slow.

            • leafs_wallace93 says:

              Kulemin and Garbo aren’t defensemen.

              Every Leaf blueliner post Dave Ellet and Todd Gill (with the exception of Kaberle) has been eventually run out of town in this market.

  8. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    If this team is built as a contender and Dion is part of it. Great. I’m all for it. If it is better for the team to move him for another quality piece, I am ok with that as well.
    That said, Gardiner and Reilly look like very good, quality players that could mature into very important pieces. Is it guaranteed? Of course not. But to suggest that neither will really pan out is going a little overboard.IMO

    • LN91 says:

      Exactly, Gardiner should be on the Leafs right now. He’s torching the AHL, Cherry tweeted he was the best AHLer during the lockout.

      He struggle with injury but picked up a goal and 2 assists on Sunday…Suggesting his game is essentially back.

      Why is he not on the Leafs?

      Komisarek has a NMC…Fraser, Franson, Gunner, Liles, Kostka, and Phaneuf would go on waivers…Holzer is the only other eligible guy, but Toronto does not one to send him down because they would prefer to get rid of an offensive defensive (Liles, Gunner, Franson, Phaneuf, Kostka)

  9. leafs_wallace93 says:

    I’m being deliberately harsh on Gardiner and Reilly to illustrate that if Dion isn’t good enough to play in Toronto how do you expect those two to be one day. Talk to me about these player after they play three seasons and their honeymoon period with Leaf Nation is expired and they can be run out of town just like every other defensemen in this organization over the last eight years.

    Right now the Leafs are three points out of 1st place and still Dion is the whipping boy while he’s a number defenseman logging big minutes on a winning club. He is a great player.

    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

      Isn’t that exactly what you say you hate the most about the criticisms of Phaneuf though? That it’s unfair and unwarranted. How does it help to transfer it to Gardiner and Reilly? Just asking.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        Phaneuf has proven a lot more than they have.

        I do like Reilly and Gardiner and have high hopes (I stress the word hope) for them but I’m not buying the hype.

        • realistic_leafs_fan says:

          You don’t have to buy the hype ( I don’t either)…I perfer to watch their abilities and see if they look like the real deal, and these guys both have great vision and passing ability. The odds are higher that they become top 4 defencemen then against it happening.IMO

    • LN91 says:

      I actually like the roster the way it is. There were some issues that I suggested for Toronto to be a playoff team and the Leafs have addressed a couple of them.

      2 of the corrections:

      1) I said to fix the 3-4 lines which Toronto did, bringing in better two-way players and an edgier game. The Leafs did that by bringing in Komarov and McClement.

      2) I said for the Leafs not to go for Luongo or a vetran goaltender. Reimer was in a sophmore slump, and had a horrendous injury after the great start. I still think he’s the goalie of the future.

      2 of the things Toronto still needs to fix:

      1) Bigger, skilled center for Kessel on the top-line. Still a necessity after 4x years and still a hard thing to end.

      2) More mobile on the back-end. Essentially why they drafted Rielly and many are high on Gardiner. But Toronto is a bit better in that aspect, as I think Holzer is a great skater as a big.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        Who is this mystery 1A center we’re trading Phaneuf for?

        I’d trade anyone on the roster or draft pick for a legitimate 1A center but they’re nowhere on the trade market.

        • LN91 says:

          Exactly, that’s the only reason I would trade Phaneuf you ding bat…for a top-line center or maybe get a package for a player that could fill that role.

          Like say what kind of package can Colorado create for Phaneuf, including o’Reilly, could a guy like Barrie come back?

          • leafs_wallace93 says:

            Ding bat, kid you’re getting eaten alive in this exchange…

            O’Reilly isn’t even an big upgrade on Kadri let alone 1A center and he can be had for less.

            If O’Reilly was a 1A center then the Avs would shell out the 3.5 million to keep him.

            This isn’t a rebuilding year for the Leafs if you haven’t noticed.

            • doorman says:

              O’Reilly is a big upgrade on Kadri, by the meer fact he is a more complete player. Yes he may not be a 70 pt guy, but his name was considered for a selke nomination last year. He is a centre that could shut down the other teams big lines and still score 50-60 pts. Kadri will never be that player. Now i am not down on kadri for that, he is a player for us that will cause match up problems for other teams, IF he keeps his play up. They could be a very effective 1-2 centre combo for us, IMO. That being said if I am trading Phaneuf I want more then O’Reilly and Barrie, but it is a start.

              • LN91 says:




                Sprare parts: Komisarek, Bozak, MacArthur, Liles.

                Prospects: Barrie, Rielly, Finn, Biggs, etc.

                No one else think this is better then we have now? I do.

                • blaze says:

                  Definitely not. That D is horrendous and we get very exposed. Gardiner is not a stud in defensive end. He’s reliable but to force those kind of minutes and responsibilities on him and a rookie will hurt the team.

                  O’Reilly is extremely unlikely to best Bozak for atleast this season so can’t see how this is a better team.

                  • LN91 says:

                    O’Reilly is a huge upgrade over Bozak.

                    D is not the strongest, but there is many ways to fix that. Easier part to fix IMO.

                    Toronto is still a rebuilding team, just like Ottawa, but they’re winning sooner than expected.

                    Especially with Toronto, many areas of concern.

                    • blaze says:

                      Maybe long term he is likely an upgrade, this season playing in the KHL quite unlikely.

                      His ceiling is higher no doubt but doesn’t ring nearly as much as advertised. People say he plays bigger than he is? What a crock. He plays a cerebral game.

                      I like his take aways and defensive awareness but he doesn’t add size or tenaicty and his playmaking ability is a wild card

              • LN91 says:

                You could probably get more considering Brett Burns went for Setoguchi, Coyle an a 1st.

                I would prefer Siemens over Barrie too.

              • leafs_wallace93 says:

                O’Rielly was the third best center on an NHL bottom feeder. I’m not saying he sucks but 1C on the Avs and the Avs consider him expendable.

      • doorman says:

        See, i disagree with the goalie situation. Not that I don’t think Reimer can be a very solid #1, but if we are going into the playoffs, I think have a vetern mentor is important for him and the team to lean on. Now that doesn’t mean I think we should trade for Lou, lol.

  10. LN91 says:

    Why is +/- not a telling stat? It should be. You may score 40 goals but your allowing 80.

    I think you can be a – player, if your near or close to even it shows that you’re doing your job most of the nights.

  11. leafs_wallace93 says:

    Because Tom Preissing once lead the league with a +44 season and now he in the SEL.

  12. lafleur10 says:


  13. doorman says:

    You should post this again in every other article lol

    • mojo19 says:

      I haven’t noticed him post it anywhere else. Maybe you should use ALL CAPS SO PEOPLE SEE IT!

      YA A 3rd ROUND PICK! PLAN THE PARADE! 3rd ROUND PICK!! 3rd ROUND PICK!! (chanting)

      • doorman says:

        lol, it is in at least two other articles I read. I do like how he is excited though. The number of posts per article seem to be dying down. Fans posting and other fans ballbusting hopes to create banter.

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